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Chinese Tea

Chinese tea is a beverage, Chinese tea is a pass time, Chinese tea is a culture. Whatever you think Chinese tea is, Chinese tea is a life time of enjoyment. If you are new to Chinese tea, this page contains interesting Chinese tea knowledge that would get you started. Waste no time, let's do Chinese tea!

Chinese tea has been around for thousands of years. China is hometown of tea and has a long history of tea tree planting, tea produce and tea drinking. Chinese tea was first discovered and used as medicine. According to the earliest legend, God of Agriculture (GoA), was one of the prehistoric representatives of Chinese people. He was known to have invented agriculture, medicine. And he was said to be the one who found tea. In (GoA's Book of Herb), it says "GoA personally tasted hundreds of herb. In a single day, he was hit by 72 poisons. But he discovered the tea tree and used the tea leaves to neutralize all poisons." That is probably the record of tea among Chinese people. China is the origin of tea. It was in the South-West part of China that Chinese tea was first found. South-Western China falls in the tropical and sub-tropical climate zone. It is covered by large areas of primeval forests. The warm and moist environment is the perfect cradle for tea trees.

Then Chinese tea evolved into a food and beverage, and further in to part of Chinese culture. In the next stage, Chinese tea was cooked like a soup. Tea leaves were eaten along with the soup. Tea leaves were even mixed with food. Ancient Chinese books documented that tea was eaten and used with other spices to cook at this stage. During the Qin, Han Dynasty (221 BC - 8 AD), simple processing of Chinese tea emerged. Tea leaves were pressed into ball shapes, dried and stored. When served, tea balls were crushed and mixed with green onion, ginger, etc., and then boiled in teapots. This is the point where Chinese tea turned from a medicine into a beverage. Also, it marked the beginning of Chinese tea being used to treat guests.

Tea culture
In china, tea culture is unique art combining high quality tea leaf, tea set or service and tea making skill. Chinese tea culture came to the height of power and splendor in the Tang Dynasty and spreaded over the world.

Chinese tea evolved from a palace treat to a common beverage during the Jin Dynasty and Nan Bei Zhao (265 AD - 589 AD). Later during the Tang Dynasty (618 AD - 907 AD), Chinese tea trading had became extremely busy. Techniques in tea plantation and processing advanced in great speed. Lots of famous teas were developed. 

In the Tang Era, Chinese tea was processed and circulated in the form of tea cakes. People started to get serious about making tea. Specialized tea tools were used and tea books were published - including the most famous "Literature of Tea" by Lu Yue. The art of Chinese tea started to take shape. That was a big leap of Chinese tea into the cultural territory.

"Tea became popular in Tang and prospered in Song (960 - 1276)". In the beginning of Song Dynasty, Chinese tea was kept in the shape of balls and cakes. When served, tea was crushed and boiled with seasoning material. But as tea drinkers became more particular, they paid more respect to the original shape, color, and taste of tea leaves. Seasoning material faded out and loose leave tea started to take the center stage.The fame of Chinese tea was owing much to Chinese 'Tea saint' - Luyu and his literature Tea Book

Classes of Chinese tea
There are a variety of teas such as Green tea, Oolong tea, Black tea, Flower tea, yellow tea, Red tea, White tea and Yellow tea in China. And some Chinese teas, produced in different places, have their distinctive taste and flavor and are always local specialty for traveler.

Most famous Chinese teas
It's not straight forward. Different Chinese tea books and tea drinkers have different lists and THE 10 Most Famous Chinese Teas list doesn't seem to exist. The following Chinese teas are ranked by the frequency they appear on 20 lists from various references.
Chinese Tea Name    Pronunciation   English Tea   Place of Origin (Province of Origin)

西湖龍井             Long Jing          Dragon Well        Xi Hu (Zhe Jiang)

洞庭碧螺春           Bi Luo Chun        Spring Snail       Tai Hu (Jiang Su)

安溪鐵觀音           Tie Guan Yin       Iron Goddess       An Xi (Fu Jian)

黃山毛峰             Mao Feng           Fur Peak           Huang Shan (An Hui)

君山銀針             Yin Jan            Silver Needle      Jun Shan (Hu Nan)

祁門紅茶             Qi Men Hung        Qi Men Red         Qi Men (An Hui)

武夷大紅袍           Da Hung Pao        Big Red Robe       Wu Yi Shan (Fu Jian)

六安瓜片             Gua Pien           Mellon Seed        Liu An (An Hui)

白毫银针            Bai Hao Yin Jan  White Fur Silver Needle  Fu Ding (Fu Jian)

云南普洱            Pu'er                Pu'er            Si Mao (Yun Nan)

凍頂烏龍            Wu Lung              Oolong           Nan Tou (Taiwan)

盧山雲霧            Yun Wu             Cloud & Fog         Lu Shan (Jiang Xi)

信陽毛尖            Mao Jian             Fur Tip          Sin Yang (Hu Nan)

蒙顶甘露           Gan Lu                Sweet Dew         Ming Ding (Si Chuan)

都匀毛尖           Mao Jian              Fur Tip          Du Yun (Gui Zhou)

蘇州茉莉花茶      Muo Li Hua            Jasmine            Su Zhou (Jiang Su)

恩施玉露          Yu Lu                Jade Dew              En Si (Hu Bei)

平水珠茶         Zhu Cha              Pearl Tea           Ping Shui (Zhe Jiang)

太平猴魁         Hou Kui              Monkey King          Tai Ping (An Hui)

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